Gold Star gamily members treated to trip by actor’s foundation
An official program of the Gary Sinise Foundation has sent more than 1,700 Gold Star family members, including 1,000 children of fallen soldiers, on a trip to Disney World called the “Snowball Express.”
The children and spouses of heroic American soldiers were loaded into fifteen airplanes and treated to an all-expenses-paid five-day vacation in Orlando, Florida.
The families leaving from Chicago were blessed with a beautiful sendoff at the airport, with supporters dressed in festive outfits cheering, clapping, and ringing jingle bells.
Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived at the Los Angeles airport in a helicopter to visit the children, give them presents, and offer a photo opportunity.
“Each one of these children who are going on these airplanes have lost a parent in military services—either combat-related or illness or unfortunately suicide sometimes,” actor Sinise told KCAL9.
“We wanna take care of these kids and make sure they know we don’t forget.”
Meanwhile, the Nashville airport was brought to a complete standstill and the crowd was treated to a rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, with brave members of the armed forces giving a salute.
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Sinise, probably best known for his role as Lt. Dan in “Forrest Gump,” has long worked with veterans and veterans groups, such as flying veterans to the National World War II all-expenses-paid tell their stories or serving them Thanksgiving dinner.
This Christmas, he’s not just focusing on veterans themselves, but their children — namely, the children left behind when one of our heroes tragically passes away.
Over 1000 Gold Star Children travel w/ surviving parent, 1,750 in all, via @americanair to Disney World today as part of our @GarySiniseFound Snowball Express program. This charter left LAX this morning. I’ll join up in a few days. Have fun kids! We love you! pic.twitter.com/OfMEpVF1er
— Gary Sinise (@GarySinise) December 8, 2018
According to KCAL-TV, the Gary Sinise Foundation sent the Gold Star families to go to Walt Disney World down in Florida as a special Christmas present called the “Snowball Express.”
“About 1,700 people from 15 locations across the country board the Snowball Express on their way to a 5-night vacation in Orlando, Florida,” KCAL reported.
Each flag representing the fallen hero of over 600 families attending @GarySiniseFound 2018 Snowball Express event at @WaltDisneyWorld
Thank you to these Gold Star families, our amazing volunteers and all who supported our event. pic.twitter.com/lr0TfBEXx6
— Gary Sinise (@GarySinise) December 12, 2018
According to Western Journal, to see them off from the West Coast, Santa Claus made an appearance (along with his better half) at Los Angeles International Airport on Saturday morning, arriving via helicopter.
The first person in line to meet Santa was young Desmond, whose father Army Sgt. Myles Penix died back in 2016.
“I (didn’t know) that he would be here in a helicopter — I thought he was gonna be jumping out of there in a parachute,” Desmond said.
Desmond was enjoying the trip, as was his mother Jade; She said the trip was important in the healing process.
“It’s just important ’cause of all of the bonding that we get to do. He gets to find friends who are just like him, and I get to find ones that have lost just like me,” she said.
“It’s easier when you find people who’ve gone through the same thing. So it’s an amazing experience.
“All of the different tributes they have, and all of the different balloon releases where I get to write a message to my husband; it’s amazing.”
As Twitchy noted, there were plenty of people giving Sinise plaudits on social media.
A good man doing great work for the children of the best men who did the worst work. God bless @GarySinise, these Gold Star children and their parents who gave all for them and our nation. https://t.co/G65tyZcbG2
— Jeremy Boreing (@JeremyDBoreing) December 10, 2018
Why is it that whenever I read things like this I get something in my eye? I swear it’s sand in my eye…
— Chris Willis (@CWillis191) December 10, 2018
You and all those who work so hard for these people are amazing. You truly are a special person.
— Truth be told (@Truthbe46567003) December 10, 2018
It just goes to show how amazing Gary Sinise is.
Our hats are off to you as always, Lt. Dan.
Dare we suggest, as Twitchy did, that he should be Time’s “Person of the Year”?